How leaders can support working parents: 5 tips

How leaders can support working parents: 5 tips

Working parents face extraordinary challenges these days.  To send a powerful message that you care about and support them, consider these strategies

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As any working parent will tell you, juggling kids and career isn’t easy under the best of circumstances. Throw in a global pandemic, and the pressure can be overwhelming.

The upside? Many working parents have developed exceptional organizational skills to manage the many demands they face every day, and these skills can make them especially valuable and productive employees. Here are just three examples:

If you’re five minutes late for a daycare pickup, you’re dealing with a cranky, stressed-out child, an exhausted and exasperated daycare worker, and probably a late fee.

They excel at time management: It’s one thing to be five minutes late for a yoga class. But if you’re five minutes late for a daycare pickup, you’re dealing with a cranky, stressed-out child, an exhausted and exasperated daycare worker, and probably a late fee.

[ Read also: Pandemic parenting: 3 truths working parents wish bosses and colleagues knew ]

Time management skills are essential for staying on top of meetings and deadlines, and the flexibility that comes with parenting is invaluable when priorities and deadlines shift.

They keep a realistic outlook: Parents often have a more realistic idea of what they can accomplish within a given framework. Teams that start with a grounded, real-world outlook often achieve better results.

They understand conflict resolution: If you’ve ever had to care for an unruly toddler, you understand the U.S. Government’s policy to never negotiate with terrorists. Parents have opportunities to fine-tune their conflict resolution skills every day, and with remote work adding an extra challenge to personal interactions, these skills are especially appreciated in most workplaces.

How you can help support working parents

If the parents in your organization exhibit any of the skills described above, you probably want to do everything you can to retain them. Here are five ways you can help support working parents now.

1. Provide clear, accessible written workplace policies

Ensure that all your company’s rules and policies are easily available to all employees in a single written source. This not only lets your employees know what resources are available when they face challenges, but as long as your policies are thoughtful and fair to all employees, it helps avoid unconscious bias and potential workplace resentment.

2. Offer flexible time

With many children learning from home these days, consider adapting work schedules to accommodate school requirements. Also, keep in mind that everyone has times of greater productivity – some of us work better early in the morning; others may hit their stride in the afternoon. Offering such flexibility may mean fewer meetings, but when parents are able to schedule their workday around when they can be most focused and productive, everyone wins.

Employees who develop social connections in the workplace are more likely to stick around.

3. Establish social/support groups

Parents are constantly learning and adapting to change. Creating support resources and social groups for the parents in your organization will build strong bonds, encourage an environment of learning, and foster loyalty in the workforce. Employees who develop social connections in the workplace are more likely to stick around.

[ Can you ask for a raise during a pandemic? Yes, read: How to ask for a raise during COVID-19. ]

4. Set a positive example

The most effective way to retain your best employees is to set a strong example. Embrace and live by your stated company policies. For example, a leader who returns to work the day after their child is born sends a clear message to employees about their values. (Hint: It’s not a positive one.) Remember, even if employees don’t openly criticize such behavior from leaders, they often copy it.

5. Acknowledge and reward success

Want to have a lasting impact on working parents – and all your employees? Celebrate your team’s achievements outside of work. Publicly praise a team member who takes paternity leave, recognize parents’ hard work integrating homeschooling and remote work, and reward those who go above and beyond in their personal and work lives.

These examples send a powerful message that you care about and support the individuals in your team.

[ Are you leading culture change? Get the free eBook, Organize for Innovation, by Jim Whitehurst. ]

Kevin Dominik Korte is the President of Univention North America, where he is responsible for the U.S. team and helps clients use open source identity management systems. Univention provides standardized identity management systems for organizations from five people to five million.

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